So remember that story in the LA Times a couple of weeks ago linking Sean “Diddy” Combs to the shooting death of rapper Tupac Shakur? Apparently it’s bullshit:
The Times appears to have been hoaxed by an imprisoned con man and accomplished document forger, an audacious swindler who has created a fantasy world in which he managed hip-hop luminaries, conducted business with Combs, Shakur, Busta Rhymes, and The Notorious B.I.G., and even served as Combs’s trusted emissary to Death Row Records boss Marion “Suge” Knight during the outset of hostilities in the bloody East Coast-West Coast rap feud.
The con man, James Sabatino, 31, has long sought to insinuate himself, after the fact, in a series of important hip-hop events, from Shakur’s shooting to the murder of The Notorious B.I.G.. In fact, however, Sabatino was little more than a rap devotee, a wildly impulsive, overweight white kid from Florida whose own father once described him in a letter to a federal judge as “a disturbed young man who needed attention like a drug.” Sabatino is pictured in the above mug shot.
The author of the story was, of course, none other than Chuck Phillips, who previously won a Pullitzer for his reporting on corruption in entertainment industry, who just the other day, defended his sourcing on the story to MTV News:
“I often get approached by a lot of people, and then I talk to a lot of people who I thought knew someone and I find out they’re lying,” Philips said. “It takes a lot of time to develop. I’m not gonna write it just because someone says it. I have to, in my mind, have double or triple sourcing on something and people who hadn’t spoken to each other and I can assure myself that they haven’t spoken to each other. Because I’ve had two people try to set me up. … I would catch them. But if you have three, you never get tripped up. I learned that writing about the music business, because I’d write about big deals that were coming out or a firing that would happen five days before it happened. And you had to be right about that sh–, because those guys would sue your ass. But in this case, I don’t write anything until I feel it’s confident, it’s true. I know all kinds of stuff I don’t write about. But then if I know that it’s true, I’m gonna write about it. But I never tell anybody what it is, because it’s unfair if it’s not true. And there are people that will lie to you. Same thing happens in the music business, when I wrote about that. Same thing happened in the government. The police lie to you all the time. Police write up documents that are completely false, and you can print that. As a journalist, if they write up a police report that’s false, you can put that on the front page of the newspaper and not be sued, because it’s a police document.
“People are talking about that document,” Philips added. “I had all of the information before I got the FBI document. [Editor's note: Philips obtained FBI records cited in Monday's story that said an informant told authorities in 2002 that Jimmy Rosemond and James Sabatino set up Shakur.] And when I got the FBI document, that was really like frosting on the cake for me. Because in this document, by somebody who I had never spoke to, I did speak to them eventually before the story ran, but who I didn’t know or speak to, he said almost the same thing that I found out. So for me, it’s just another resource, but for everybody who reads it, ‘Oh, it has to be true. The FBI is sourcing it.’ “